Dell delays earnings report again

For the second quarter in a row, Dell has missed filing a quarterly financial report while its accounting practices are investigated

Dell waited until the US financial markets closed on Thursday evening to reveal that it will delay filing its next set of financial results, because of long-running concerns over its standards of financial reporting.

The company had been scheuduled to release an earning report for the fourth quarter of 2006 after the close of its financial year on the 31 December. This won't happen now, and it's not clear when these Q4 figures will be released.

This will be the second quarter in a row that Dell has failed to produce a report on schedule for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as required by US law. Last quarter, Dell did not file a report that was due in early October until 21 November. The company has still not filed second quarter earnings with the SEC.

When Dell did finally release the third-quarter earnings, it qualified them as "preliminary" because of the ongoing investigations by the SEC and by Dell's own board of directors. Nevertheless, Dell turned in a healthy set of figures in that quarter. But Dell has still to file a report for the second quarter.

The fourth quarter earnings will be keenly anticipated as analysts wait to dissect the overall effect of the earnings issues across the year, as well as to assess the damage to Dell caused by a major battery recall for laptop batteries in August.

Shares had risen during the day prior to the news from $26 to $27, and barely slipped by 15 cents after the announcement.